All My Sorted Relationships

My big honkin’ cheque arrived, and it was a big honkin’ big deal just to find a credit union around here to cash it.  Two days and about 7 kms of criss crossing the downtown of the largest city in Canada, resulted in success.  Bitty little credit union at City Hall.  Who’d have thought it would take such an effort?

In other news, I’m moving in with Frank.  Our bromance has grown to the point where we felt comfortable taking the next step.  I’ll be moving into his spare bedroom tonight – for an extra $125/month.  I’m in the same building, but now I have a living room and a larger space to work in.  Organizing readings, or having guests over won’t be as awkward either(people had to hang out in my bedroom – on my bed – with me).

I took The Girl to an intimate singer/songwriter type concert on Sunday.  Jeffery Straker is an award winning musician from Regina who two years ago, had a single reach #5 on the charts – higher than Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga at the time.  I met him at the Mayor’s Arts & Business Awards last year, and we’ve been facebook friends ever since.

He was playing with four other artists, each doing a 30 minute set.  He came over to chat with us, which was great because it made me look super cool.  He even added a song to his playlist and dedicated it to The Girl.  He’s got a real Billy Joel meets Elton John vibe going on.  She liked the opening act better.

The venue itself was impressive.  C’est What hosts these events weekly.  They have theatre lighting, a sound booth, and a great ambience, set apart from the rest of the bar.  I’ve long been pondering the possibility of expanding The Vertigo Series to Toronto.  This venue is perfect.

I finally got around to phoning the hottest girl on the dance floor.  We talked for 45 minutes and we’re going out for drinks tomorrow night.  She wants to tell me her life story – maybe have me write an article about her.  I guess this means I’ll be ‘researching’ her, which is pretty much the exact same process as ‘creeping’ on someone’s facebook profile.  I just don’t have to feel as lame afterwards.

I really hope she doesn’t have a penis.

Alright.  Gotta finish a Canada Council Arts Grant today, then pack my shit.  Full day, all day long.  Here I go.

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Not Likely to Happen

It’s long been a fantasy of mine to pick up the hottest girl on the dance floor.  Problem is, I’m not really into the club scene, I’m not a great mover, and while I may be ‘alright’ in the looks department, I’m certainly not Brad Pitt.

Conversation is my angle.  Get me one-on-one, add a little natural chemistry, inject some funny, a bit of mind fucking, and we’ll have a pretty damned unforgettable evening together.  Loud club music is the enemy of those types of conversations.

The fantasy, as a result, lived somewhere between gaining super powers and flying into outer space.  To be perfectly clear, it’s filed under ‘not likely to happen in anyone’s lifetime’.

After the read last night, Frank dragged me out with his date and two buddies.  I really didn’t want to go, but sitting home and doing nothing wasn’t really appealing either.  We wound up at a place on Queen and Bathhurst called ‘Tota’.  No cover.  Intimate dance floor.  Club music.  Beer.

First thing I did was ditch the group in favour of some pizza being served up across the street.  After that I went inside, bought a Keith’s and found Frank among a mass of humanity.  His date sort of ditched him.  We watched her work the room for a couple minutes.  She knew a lot of people there.

As I said, I wasn’t into being there in the first place, but I certainly wasn’t about to sit on the wall to watch the evening pass by either.  Off to the dance floor I went to close my eyes, move my ass, and ‘be’.  It was not unpleasant out there for me.

I’d open my eyes occasionally to see what was happening around me and I saw her immediately – the hottest girl on the dance floor.  We seemed to be moving through the same bit of real estate at regular intervals.  Didn’t think much of it.  She was dancing with everyone.

After a couple hours she was up at the front with a drum wedged between her legs, putting on a show.  She was good too.  Hellova drummer to put it simply.

The room kind of moved me towards her.  I watched and I danced with myself.  After a while she stopped, and I was close enough to ask her why.  She shrugged.  I told her to keep playing.  She handed me her stick and started banging with her fingertips.

Sometime shortly after that, I found myself banging that drum with her.  Wasn’t even thinking about it.  I was moving and counting the beats.  Period.  Did that for awhile then waded back out onto the floor for some more ass shaking.

At the end of the night I passed by her to get my coat.  Took a quick moment to thank her for letting me bang the drum with her.  We fell into a quick conversation and shortly after that, she was punching her number into my phone.  I didn’t even ask.  I didn’t even try to get it.

What’s more, It’s been a whole day and I still don’t feel like dialling it.  Not really the point though.  I got the number of the hottest girl on the dance floor.  Friended her on facebook.  How the hell did that happen?

Think I’ll get myself fitted for a space suit next.

But First I’ll…

Brab firkin berbitt!!!

Spent the whole day yesterday looking for ways to avoid writing more scenes for ‘Hog Town’ – and was quite successful.  I made tweaks to the Vertigo facebook page and website.  I sent some emails.  I sent emails informing people I’d be making phone calls.  I pushed my backgammon rating up 45 points (one more win and I’ll break 1800 for the first time since last October).  I went to the gym and pushed 125lbs off my chest 22 times (down 20lbs from December).  I Skyped with Jazzy and booked her plane ticket to Toronto.  I waxed philosophic on drug addiction and alcohol abuse.  I read every single available article on the latest dysfunction of the Toronto Transit Commission.  I even googled the term ‘earwax’ and learned something about something I always found annoying.

I didn’t write a single damn thing for ‘Hog Town’.

And now it’s today and later tonight I’ll be sitting around a table with a bunch of people who’ll all be eager to hear the latest episode of my musings — and I’m eight pages short.  I should really finish up with this and get pounding.  I should… but first let me tell you about breakfast.

Janicel joined Frank and I at Bacia’s table this morning.  It was an incredibly pleasant surprise.  Frank watched her on my computer screen for two minutes before he could even muster a word.  He really misses her.  I miss her too, but in a different way.  She was a big part of the vibe in Bacia’s kitchen, before she went home to Panama.  We even read a few scenes from the new episode together.  It felt like old times, except for the part where Frank was being a love sick retard.  That was new.

I am now sitting by the fireplace in Roncy’s Bean, and I’m minutes away from finishing what I started.  But first I’ll eat a sandwich.

Drama

It’s difficult to be cool and mysterious when all I do is go online and blurt out my innermost thoughts.  Not really fair when it comes to dealing with certain people.  Problem is, I don’t intimately know my innermost thoughts most times until I write them down.

I didn’t sleep well last night.  Kept waking up.  Not just tossing and turning, but full on wide awake.  Is there something going on with the moon that no one told me about?

I suppose I am coming to accept that there are forces swirling around me that I have no control over.  I mean… I DO accept that, I just wish I could feel good about it.  We complicate thinks by over thinking them.  Shit never goes according to plan anyway, so why bother with all the thinky thoughts?  Just ‘be’ motherfucker.

TSN has finally made contact.  The email, a positive one, came at approximately 7:52pm last night.  I responded at 10:37pm, and they (he) got back to me again at 10:42pm.  I sent him (them) the pilot script and I’m optimistic this will lead to a meeting.

I’m two scenes into Act II of ‘Hog Town’.  The changes I made in Act I have indeed made the way forward a little easier.  I’m organizing another table read for Friday at Frank’s.  I invited a bunch of people.  If I push hard, I think I can have it ready in time.

The evening won’t just be about me.  I downloaded a number of this year’s Oscar nominated scripts.  I think it will be a nice change to focus on something that didn’t originate in my mind.

One of those scripts is ‘Moneyball’.  I watched the movie on the plane heading into Regina.  I thought the pace was incredibly slow, and there was something about the structure that I couldn’t put my finger on.  It seemed weird.  Yet, the movie remained compelling for me.  Why?  I watched it again on the flight back to Toronto.  Didn’t get any further with my ponderings, so I started reading the script.

Wow.  Big difference from the page to the screen.  Huge chunks of the script never made its way into the final cut.  There’s a whole character in the script, who doesn’t exist at all in the movie.  Facinating!  This is why I dig reading scripts that have already been made into movies and TV shows.  There’s so much to learn.  So much to contemplate.  Sometimes it’s easy to see why certain decisions were made.  Other times other decisions are real head scratchers.

Funny.  I could stand to think far MORE about the drama in my craft, and far LESS about the drama in my life.  One is an exercise in productivity and the other is just plain dumbass foolishness.

I could say more, but I choose to remain mysterious.

Statement of Purpose

To Whom It May Concern:

Behold my statement of purpose for the purpose of entrance into medical school.

There’s a Tom Waits song, ‘Eyeball Kid’, playing on my iTunes playlist right now.  It’s a standard 12 bar blues riff with alternate instrumentation.  Instead of drums, bass, and guitar, he’s using a moonshine jug, a garbage can (the tin kind), and some other metallic thing clanking in the background.  The guitar eventually does make an appearance, but it’s almost an afterthought.  Ironic, given that the guitar is supposed to be the featured instrument in 12 bar blues.

The song is a perfect metaphor for me.  I follow the rules, but there’s something odd about my approach to things.  I throw the guitar in at the end, because that’s what’s expected of me.  But that guitar is not really who I am at heart.  I am learning to find the courage to see that about myself.  Old habits of appealing to the expectations of others is hard to break though.

This perhaps is my greatest asset.  The world is full of people who can’t seem to arrange their songs in the way others expect.  They beat themselves up for it.  Some even destroy themselves over it, because deep down, they know they don’t fit in with what’s playing on top 40 radio.

Through medical school, I aim to acquire the tools I need to help these people.  I want them to see how shallow and narrow top 40 music really is.  If you can replicate your entire music collection through a single trip to any Wal-Mart in the country, what does that say about your tastes?

Too often in society, we strive to conform.  We aim to become as shallow, narrow and soulless as a Wal-Mart music collection.  We reject what’s rich and diverse about our individual songs, in favour of something that’s ultimately more destructive.

This is especially so for those suffering in the genre I wish to work.  Despite being such a wide spread problem, little is known about it.  The experts out there right now can’t even agree on when the patient is cured!

Perhaps that moment comes when patients learn to play their own song, in their own way, for their own pleasure.  Perhaps it’s just that simple.

Perhaps it’s just that hard.

J. Parkinson Faust

…in big cities

“It is fashionable…
to be single…
in big cities…
but not in small towns…
In Regina…
Saskatchewan…
I fell in love…
with her frown.”

‘Duet for Emmylou and the Grievous Angel’ by The Rah Rah’s, has been in my top rated playlist for a couple years now.  The song was actually iTunes ‘Song of the Week’ one week in 2009.  Erin Passmore sings the female half of the duet.  Never met her.  Didn’t even know what she looked like, but I’ve seen her name everywhere.  Her and the rest of the band just got back from Toronto after recording their third album.

I ran into her at Ian’s birthday party.  Shy, quiet type.  Not at all what I expected.  She was a life raft in a sea of theatre creatures.  The conversations flowing across Ian’s table between Greg, Dana, Ian, Kyle, and Donny were so random and happenstance, that I lost patience trying to follow them.  I showed up at her coffee shop the next morning and got the staff discount.

I left the party early to hang out at Shawn’s.  Brad & Beth were over and we played cards.  I helped myself to a couple beers out of his fridge and did my best to contribute to the fun.  I’m good for a random interjection of irreverence to any conversation.  I think that’s why they keep inviting me back.  That, and the fact I’ve known Shawn twenty-five years.

Holy shit!  I just realized how long that is.  I still feel like I’m seventeen most of the time.  I was skyping with Jazz the other day and she said I act like a teenager most of the time.  Sage words from a twelve-year-old.  I took it as a complement.

Onto more serious matters;  As of today I’m still writing Act II of the second episode of ‘Hog Town’.  I recall saying that I might be starting the 3rd episode by this time.  Alas, I’ve fallen to that old habit of not starting.  To my credit, I have been poking and scratching at it.  The thing was lacking a ‘B’ story and I wrote that into the first act.  It’s much more solid now.  Act II should go much easier.  In fact, I’m going to write on the plane today.  We’ll have a table read for Thursday night.  That’ll force me to git’er done.

The Girl has been in my thoughts.  I bought her a book the other day.  ‘Skinny Legs and All’ by Tom Robbins was a huge influence on me.  Robbins’ playful use of language opened up new doors, and changed my worldview.  So it was with great pleasure that I was able to crack it open and begin reading to her over skype.  It made me feel close to her.  It made me feel kind of nervous.

I fly home to Toronto today.

Wow.  I just said ‘home’.  Guess I’m starting to genuinely feel like I really fit in there.  Maybe over the next 406 pages, The Girl and I will also learn how well we fit together – in big cities.

The Talk

I’m sitting in the window of Atlantis.  Been awhile since I’ve been able to say that.  It’s good to be home.  In fifteen minutes I have a meeting with Richard from YBCS… or is it 45 minutes?  I checked my calendar and nothing’s written down.

Thus far it’s been like a family reunion in here.  Saw Johanna and talked to her for a spell.  The behind-the-counter people are still the same, and two seats down is Eric.

I did a shoot with Jenny this morning.  She’s my favourite client.  She’s also Romanian.  She had this thing she scripted together and we shot it for a spell, but it kept coming off wooden and well… ‘scripted’.  I suggested we just set up somewhere and I’ll ask her questions about her business.  Instantly, she came to life on camera.  Her voice had colour.  Her personality filled the frame.  She was happy with the results.

Last night I hung out with Robyn.  We made mashed potatoes together.  Sounds like a metaphor for something naughty, but it isn’t.  I was sitting on her couch and she was literally struck with the urgent need to make mashed potatoes.  I like a little weird with my friendships.

I can feel Toronto seeping into me a little bit deeper.  I’m beginning to notice the smallness of Regina.  Downtown seems a little bland this time of year.  People here are in the habit of staying inside, due to the cold.

I don’t like feeling this way.  It’s like I just noticed I’m not as much into my girlfriend as I used to be.  I do think the people here are among the best you’ll ever meet — except for the ones who aren’t.  We have the religion known as Rider Pride.  We have sunsets like you ain’t never seen.  Long drives and the smell of harvest in late August.  Grama’s cabbage rolls.  Friends, family, and running into faces you know from somewhere randomly in coffee shops.

Oh Regina… I think we need to have ‘the talk’.

Great Big Nationwide Simple Ambitions

The read last night took place in O’Hanlon’s.  A band was playing and we couldn’t really hear ourselves, but it turned out alright.  It was really great to see Kate again.  Big hug and a kiss.  She brought Ian along, her friend and my acquaintance.  We know each other from theatre school.  They seemed to enjoy the script.  Ian invited me to his birthday party on Friday.  Kate will be my date.

Vertigo Series Inc is now an official Saskatchewan membership based, non-profit organization.  We’d been talking for some time about doing it, but the paperwork always seemed too daunting.  I say ‘seemed’ in the sense that I never actually looked into it until yesterday.  In reality, it only took a few minutes, via online forms.

Chantel, Tara and I are board members.  All we need now is members.  Shouldn’t be a problem as our facebook group numbers 220 human beings.  My biggest concern is keeping things simple.

I want Vertigo to be a membership based organization who’s mandate is to provide writers and musicians an opportunity to share their work with an audience.  Rather than serve the interests of our members, we will serve the interests of the artists who perform for us.  That simple distinction should keep petty politics at bay.  If we aren’t about serving our members, there should be no self-serving motives brewing among the membership.  That’s my hope anyway.

I’m meeting with Tara on Saturday and Chantel on Monday.  I’m having drinks with Jim tonight.  He’s our title sponsor.  Since issuing my call for interest yesterday, I’ve received queries from writers across the country to be part of the 2012/13 season.  This thing’s becoming great big.  I’m excited to see how it unfolds for us over the next few weeks.

A Methodical Meandering Towards…

I am in the process of turning the Vertigo Reading Series into a non-profit corporation.  It’s like I got bored and decided to create paperwork for myself.  I also felt that creating a non-profit corporation would open up some funding avenues to us.  Thus far I have reserved the name, ‘Vertigo Series Inc.’  ‘Inc’ as in ‘ink’, get it?  The next step will be to file the documents online.  Should only take me a few hours.

In the meantime, I am preparing a Canada Council Arts Grant for the series.  We need to identify a number of writers beforehand.  After talking to the administrator of the program, we should get some money at least.  There’s also another Saskatchewan Arts Board grant that I’ll be working on, just as soon as I talk to a particular someone at the Arts Board.

I also asked Chantel to sit on the board of this new non-profit organization.  Chantel was my producer/production coordinator for a number of years.  I’ve written about her a lot in times past.  We need someone who can eat up intimidating paperwork at a moment’s notice.  I can think of no one better qualified.

Tonight, I have organized a table read.  It’s ‘organized’ in that I only managed to lock down two people to come, and I still don’t have a place to go.  Maybe I’ll call Shawn.  Would that be weird?  “Hey Shawn, good to talk to you.  Can I invite some people over to your house for a table read?  You can come too if you want.”

Just called.  No answer.

Might have to do it at mom’s.  I’ll bring it up at supper tonight.

Listening for the Chord Changes

Yesterday was fun!

I dropped in on Dean at O’Neill High School and gave his class an impromptu lecture on the film industry in Toronto.  I already knew most of the class, and it felt great beyond words to see them all again.  I talked for half an hour and then we set out to read an episode of ‘Hog Town’.

At this moment, the 6th period guest speaker had arrived.  Krystal was there to pitch the class on attending the Vancouver Art Institute.  She came early so I gave her one of the roles.  She was more than game, though slightly nervous.  I warned the class beforehand that there’d be some f-bombs dropping, and Krystal had ‘em all.

“Welcome to Joe’s Condoms, Vacuums, and Stradivarius Appraisals.  Fuck ‘em, suck ‘em or play ‘em, we got what you need.”

She had to say that line three times in two minutes.  Then, 20 minutes after that she’d be giving a professional presentation on why attending the Vancouver Art Institute would be a good idea for their futures.

The class loved it.  They sort of bonded with her as well.  Her presentation seemed to go well, and afterwards we all went for beers at The Last Straw.  Dean paid for drinks.  That was our fee for showing up and making his day.

From there I headed to Crave to help out with the February production of the Vertigo Reading Series.  Things started off with musician Ryan Anderson playing a 25 minute set.  Fionncara McOine and Ken Fox followed with poetry of their own.  Ryan came back for intermission and then I got to take the floor.  It wasn’t scheduled, but being able to insert myself in the line-up was a privilege I felt securing indulging, given I was co-producing it.

The theme was Valentine’s Day.  I asked Ryan to play something melancholy.  He hadn’t heard the poem before.  I had no idea what harmonies would leap from his guitar.   He began playing, and then words came out my mouth.  I read ’22 Hours’, a previous blog entry dedicated to The Girl.   I would listen for chord changes and proceed with the next sentence.  Ryan would listen to my sentence and make a chord change.  It was perfectly spontaneous and the crowd was quite moved.  Never done anything like that.  I was quite moved as well.  Wish she could have seen it.

Two more poets, Caitlin Ward and Bernadette Wagner, followed us and we capped the evening by 10pm.  From there it was off to my friend’s friend’s tattoo parlour for some back room drinks and thinks.  Tara, Vertigo’s host and co-producer, was there along with her sister and a Ukrainian model/musician named Yanina and the shop owner Shawn.  We stayed up til late and had a great time.  It was a perfect cap to a completely serendipitous day.